Sheridan Residents Try Skills as Judges

People from the audience donned judges' robes and heard cases during "You Be the Judge" at Sheridan College Thursday night. (Photo by Pat Blair)
People from the audience donned judges' robes and heard cases during "You Be the Judge" at Sheridan College Thursday night. (Photo by Pat Blair)

People from the audience donned judges' robes and listened to evidence presented in mock cases at Sheridan College Thursday night during a program that's intended to give Wyoming citizens a feel for what it's like to be a judge.

Called “You Be the Judge,” the program started with a discussion by Wyoming's five Supreme Court justices on topics including an overview of Wyoming's judiciary system, the qualities needed by a judge and how judges are selected.

Chief Justice Mike Davis said “You Be the Judge” is an outreach program.

During the justices' presentation, Davis said people want judges to be fair, honest, hardworking and compassionate and to know the law. He said judges need to be decisive and should not be subject to political pressure.

Justice Kate Fox talked about the rule of law, which is the basis for the judicial system, and Justice Keith Kautz talked about how judges are chosen. He said in about 33 states, judges are elected in a competitive process. In other states, and at the federal level, judges are appointed by governors and by the president.

The third process, which Wyoming uses, is by merit selection, in which those who want to be judges submit applications. The applications are reviewed by a non-political commission, and the best three names are submitted to the governor for selection.

Davis said the Wyoming Supreme Court will convene at Sheridan High School Friday to hear two regular oral arguments, one civil and one criminal, in front of high school students.

He said the arguments will start at 9 a.m., and there will probably be a period during which students can ask questions.

Wyoming's Supreme Court justices opened the program with a discussion of the judicial system. (Photo by Pat Blair)
Wyoming's Supreme Court justices opened the program with a discussion of the judicial system. (Photo by Pat Blair)
District Court Judge John Fenn served as MC for the event. (Photo by Pat Blair)
District Court Judge John Fenn served as MC for the event. (Photo by Pat Blair)
SheridanWyoming.com

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